Scope and stride proved to be the key to the win for Margie Engle and Royce during the $75,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, presented by Audi of Lexington, during the Kentucky Spring Classic. The pair out jumped 12 other horse and rider combinations during the tiebreaker to claim the winning prize with a double clear effort. Charlie Jayne captured the second place award with Chill R Z, while Venezuela's Pablo Barrios galloped into third aboard Zara Leandra.
Forty-four entries showed over Conrad Homfeld's opening course, which featured multiple bending lines, an open water with a scored pole, a steady vertical-oxer double combination, and an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination that proved to be the bogey. It yielded 13 clear rounds, which eventual winner Margie Engle attributed to the footing. "He built a good course," she commented. "The jumps were a good height and he had some tricky lines and some technical lines, but the horses give you a little extra on this footing."
For the jump-off, riders had to begin with a rollback from a new vertical to a new oxer, before then slicing across the ring to the double combination. Then they galloped to a single vertical before making another rollback over a skinny vertical to a wide oxer, and then galloping home over a single oxer in the middle of the Rolex Stadium.
Captain Canada showed the way over the short course with his top mount Star Power, owned by Team Works of Perth, Ontario. The duo left all the rails intact, but had a conservative gallop going early in the field to finish sixth with a time of 44.786 seconds. The next to go was Pablo Barrios and Zara Leanrda, owned by ZL Group of Wellington, FL. The speedy duo was clear over the course and broke the beam at 41.834 second, which was good enough for third.
Katie Prudent raced to catch Barrios' time with her winner from yesterday, V, owned by Michael Smith of Winchester, VA. They came just 1/10th of a second with their fault-free effort for fourth.
The next to tackle the short course was Margie Engle aboard Royce, owned by Elm Rock Partners LLC of Bronxville, NY. They had their eye on the prize and picked up a quick gallop to the first fence. The duo sliced through the double combinations and made a short turn to the skinny before leaving a stride out to the final oxer. The final time of 40.757 seconds would be good enough for the win.
Charlie Jayne attempted to catch Engle's time with Chill R Z, owned by Alex Jayne of Elgin, IL. He and his World Cup mount were just a touch too slow, galloping through the timers in 40.905 seconds to take over second, sealing the victory for Engle.
"Last year, I practiced jumping clear rounds with Chill, and this year I've been trying to practice speed in the jump-off," noted Jayne. "This was actually the first class that he jumped since World Cup finals that I just did two weeks ago. I jumped him a little bit this morning just to practice the Nations Cup format of jumping twice in one day, because I'm going to do the Nation's Cup team coming up next month in Spruce Meadows. I was really happy that I could jump him this morning and then come back again this afternoon, and he just jumped to rounds like it was nothing."
Jayne added, "He's ready to win. He's got a big, lofty stride, and I have to make it up in the turns and by leaving out strides. A bigger ring is easier for him because I can just pick up that nice forward gallop that I like. Today, I was really happy that he's so adjustable. That's one of his greatest assets."
Young rider Reed Kessler of Lexington, KY, had the time with Mika, but a heartbreaking rail at the last oxer gave them four faults for sixth. Emanuel Andrade had a rail with each of his mounts from Hollow Creek Farm, Walter 61 and ZZ-Top VH Schaarbroek Z, to place seventh and eighth, respectively.
Mario Gamboa and the Stansky's Mission Farm's Unico, and Sharn Wordley with Ashland Stables' Derly Chin De Muze each had four faults as well for the ninth and tenth place positions. The eight-faulters included Aaron Vale riding Zippo II for 2VR Showjumpers, Schuyler Riley aboard M. Michael Meller's Waterloo, and Ramiro Quintana with St. Bride's Farm's Whitney.
This evening's victory on Royce marks an improvement from second place in the event for Engle. "I was really pleased with him both rounds," she smiled. "Royce is riding better and better. He's always had all the ability in the world. He's got unbelievable talent, and it's just taken me a little bit of time to get the rideability in between the jumps. I was just starting to get it before I got hurt last year, so then he had some time off. He's a horse that you really need to develop a rapport with. I lost half the year, so I was almost starting from scratch again. He jumped a lot of clear rounds in Florida, but I was just going medium because I still didn't have the rideability where I wanted it. I am starting to get him back to where I had him last year."
Engle continued, "Royce is not a quick horse by any means. He jumps very high and spends a lot of time in the air. He's only eight-years-old, so he really over jumps the fences, and he's very good behind. He is a little bit of a slower going horse. Since he has so much scope and ability you can turn back to things really quickly and he's got the ability to get across easily. He's so scopey he just gets higher where a lot of horses get flat."
The next stop for Engle and Royce will be the Devon Horse Show, followed by HITS Saugerties and the Lake Placid Horse Shows, before heading to Europe for the end of the summer. She has very high hopes for the young mount and sees a very bright future.
"He's not a speed horse and you're not going to be able to go fast with him every time, but we're working on his rideability and getting quicker," she admitted. "I think his main qualities are going to shine through when the courses get really big. I really feel like he's a championship horse and he can do big round after big round and it doesn't take much out of him. I know he's got all the ability and the talent. I really think he's a horse for the big, big stuff."
Engle has always enjoyed competing at the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, and this year was no exception. "It's a big open area and you've got plenty of room to ride here," she said. "Weather is always unpredictable, and no matter what the weather does the footing is always perfect. It's nice to have permanent stabling, and there are always good courses. Kentucky is horse area!"
The Kentucky Spring Classic will conclude tomorrow with the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic, which gets underway at 8a.m. The High Junior and Amateur-Owner Classics, as well as the Low Amateur-Owner Classic will wrap-up the competition in the Rolex Stadium.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
RESULTS: $75,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix
1 645 ROYCE MARGIE ENGLE USA 72.449 40.757
2 352 CHILL R Z CHARLIE JAYNE USA 73.298 40.905
3 279 ZARA LEANDRA PABLO BARRIOS VEN 72.320 41.834
4 256 V KATIE PRUDENT USA 73.244 41.948
5 856 STAR POWER IAN MILLAR CAN 70.791 44.786
6 149 MIKA REED KESSLER USA 72.133 4 39.823
7 635 WALTER 61 EMANUEL ANDRADE VEN 70.165 4 39.927
8 655 ZZ-TOP VH SCHAARBROEK Z EMANUEL ANDRADE VEN 70.828 4 41.486
9 315 UNICO MARIO GAMBOA COL 71.224 4 43.711
10 952 DERLY CHIN DE MUZE SHARN WORDLEY NZL 71.905 4 46.378
11 790 ZIPPO II AARON VALE USA 72.257 8 41.442
12 445 WATERLOO SCHUYLER RILEY USA 71.168 8 42.242
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